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The Body of PropertyAntebellum American Fiction and the Phenomenology of Possession$
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Chad Luck

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263004

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263004.001.0001

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Eating Dwelling Gagging:

Eating Dwelling Gagging:

Hawthorne, Stoddard, and the Phenomenology of Possession

Chapter:
(p.83) 2 / Eating Dwelling Gagging
Source:
The Body of Property
Author(s):

Chad Luck

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823263004.003.0003

This chapter argues that two New England writers, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Elizabeth Stoddard, each rework the discourse of antebellum diet reform into a nuanced theory of property and domestic space. In House of the Seven Gables and The Morgesons, the two authors identify the phenomenological experience of eating as a fundamental aspect of appropriation, a primordial form of “alimentary possession.” At the same time, this chapter demonstrates how both authors capitalize on the medico-physiological language of the diet reformers in order to establish an analogy between the alimentary body and the space of the home. Doing so reveals the ways in which eating helps condition the inside/outside structure of domestic space. Whereas Hawthorne ultimately laments the “masculine” market’s invasion of the alimentary home, however, Stoddard discovers radical potential in a “feminine” gift-economy at odds with this all-consuming market.

Keywords:   Nathaniel Hawthorne, Elizabeth Stoddard, House of the Seven Gables, The Morgesons, eating, diet reform, property, domestic space, phenomenology, gift

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